Thursday, June 21, 2012

A review of Simon Schama's "Citizens"

Simon Schama's Citizens is an in-depth analysis of the causes and effects of the French Revolution. Before reading this book, I knew cursory information about the French Revolution, mainly through free-associated terms: Louis XVI, Bastille, Robespierre, Reign of Terror, guillotine, Napoleon. Afterward, I learned that there was a lot more causes to the Revolution than just "the poor were dissatisfied in France and revolted". Although it may sound tedious, Citizens is actually quite entertaining. Schama works his usual historiography magic by making even the dullest of events interesting, and his irreverent, chatty prose makes the book zip along. Just when the book seems to have started to become dusty and boring, there is a cool little anecdote that spices up the story. Although Schama is regarded in "serious" history circles as a mainstream sellout, I can't front: I really enjoyed this book.

Grade: A-

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